Apr 12, 2024  
2023 - 2024 College Catalog 
  
2023 - 2024 College Catalog

Economics, BA


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View Economics Department website

Economics is the science of choice.  It’s the study of how people, businesses, and societies make choices under scarcity.   At the societal level, the field of economics is focused on assuring the production and distribution of goods and services such that the economic well-being of society is both as high as possible and increasing over time.  Human beings are faced with scarce resources but have unlimited wants.  What institutions, what rules of behavior, can be devised to ensure that human wellbeing is maximized?  Economics attempts to answer these questions, and in so doing, helps you understand human behavior, make choices under scarcity, and participate in a democracy as a responsible citizen.

Some of the benefits of studying economics include:

  • It fosters critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship skills that are valuable in any career path.

  • It gives you the tools to evaluate different economic systems and policies, and how they affect human welfare, social justice, and environmental sustainability.

  • It enables you to understand your own behavior and preferences, as well as those of others.

  • It equips you with essential data handling and analysis skills to inform your decisions and help you thrive in complex environments.

  • It prepares you for the interdependence and diversity of the market, enabling you to navigate both opportunities and risks associated with today’s global economy.

More generally, economics is a social science that provides a framework for problem solving.  John Maynard Keynes, an important 20th century British economist, once said that economics “…is a method rather than a doctrine…a technique of thinking which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusions.”  This means that economics has broad application:  in the business world, in government, and in nonprofit organizations as well as in family, personal and professional life.  Economics is a true liberal arts discipline, requiring the use of political science, history, mathematics, philosophy and sociology to underpin effective, reliable economic decisions and analysis.  Consequently, economics is excellent preparation for careers in private business or government, or as preparation for further study in economics, law, medicine, or business.

Members of the economics faculty will advise each student on the composition of an appropriate program, given the individual’s interests and objectives. Any student considering a major in economics is urged to consult with a member of the economics faculty as early as possible. Members of the economics faculty are committed to mentoring students in the development of their own ideas in the initiation and realization of St. Mary’s Projects.

Graduate School Preparation

Students who are considering graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take coursework in mathematics and statistics beyond those required for the major. ECON 380  and MATH 151 MATH 152  and MATH 256  are essential for graduate study; MATH 255  and MATH 312  are recommended as well. Most SMCM students who have pursued their PhD in Economics have double-majored in Economics and Math.

Degree Requirements


General College Requirements


General College Requirements (see Curriculum  section), including the following requirements to satisfy the major

Minimum of 48 Credit Hours of Coursework


A minimum of 48 credit hours of coursework carrying economics credit and distributed as follows:

Analytical skills


Field-Specific Economic Analysis


Up to 4 credits of 300-level coursework can be satisfied through any combination of directed research, independent study, or internship experiences.  A minimum of 20 credits must be earned by taking named courses in the ECON 300 - ECON 380 range.

  • twenty-four credit hours of economics coursework at the 300-level

Senior Experience


Senior Experience: The objectives of the courses in this requirement are to give students a way to build on the theory and methods of economics learned during the first three years, to allow students to gain expertise in the area they choose to study, and to improve their research and writing skills. Students must choose at least one of the following courses:

Minimum Grade and GPA Requirements


Students must earn a minimum grade of C- in all required economics courses and maintain an overall GPA of 2.0 or better in these courses.

Sequence of Study


The following model is suggested as a possible basic program to satisfy requirements for the major in economics:

First Year:


Sophomore Year:


  • 200-level courses in the major requirements and one upper-level course in the major. 
  • The three required 200-level courses should not all be taken in the same semester. It is best to take Intermediate Micro and Economic Statistics in different semesters.

Junior Year:


  • Four 300-level courses in economics.

Senior Year:


  • Two or three 300- or 400-level (students are welcome to take additional upper-level courses to prepare for career goals).

Minimum Grade and GPA Requirements


A grade of C- or better must be received in each course used to satisfy the requirements for the major and the cumulative grade-point average of courses used to satisfy the major must be at least 2.0.

Requirements for Teacher Certification


A Master of Arts in Teaching Program is available at St. Mary’s College of Maryland after completion of the baccalaureate degree. Students who are interested in becoming teachers should contact the chair of the Department of Educational Studies or an education adviser in their major field of study for suggested coursework in educational studies and their specific major. These consultations should take place during the first semester of the sophomore year.

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